Wednesday, February 27, 2019
The use and interpretation of Scripture. . .
Most Protestants believe that Scripture supports their position. That is not surprising. The problem with most Protestants is that they believe Scripture supports their position but they do not account for the catholicity and some of their positions are more novelty than what has always been, is now, and will be believed. The key is not simply proof-texting your doctrine but living in it as the faithful who reject the idea that Christianity is merely an idea -- a theory -- but that truth that forms and informs practice and life.
That is the claim of Lutheranism -- at the end of the Augsburg Confession we insist that if our confession can be found to depart from Scripture and catholic doctrine and practice, we will change to honor the Scriptures and live consistently with that catholic doctrine and practice. While some may challenge this assertion or even laugh it off, the truth is that our appeal is exactly that -- to be captive to the Word of God. In fact, the Reformation is less about such things as Purgatory or infused grace or other things than it is about authority itself. Luther was certainly not the first nor the last to suggest that Councils have contradicted each other and Popes have disagreed with the Popes who went before them. But Luther's claim to be captive to the Word was new enough to spark an entire movement.
Authority remains as much the issue for Christianity today and its conflicts as it was for Martin Luther and the Roman Church of His day. While fewer and fewer people are ready to suggest that Rome's claims stand on their own merits, there are also fewer and fewer people who know those Scriptures well enough to listen with a discerning ear to what is preached and taught. This is what has led to and continues to lead to the diversity among Christendom and the seeming inability of any group to speak the Word and let it stand upon its own merits. Just as it was in the 16th century, so now we mark our distinctions on the basis of doctrine and truth -- not about feelings or desires or anything other than the Word of the Lord.
The typical Roman Catholic does not even see the need to reconcile the truths of his faith with Scripture and the typical Protestant does not even notice the distance between what he thinks is the faith of the Scriptures and what is blind innovation designed more to empty the Church of her identity and authority than to honor the hermeneutic of continuity that is the catholic principle. So Protestantism continues to fracture and to depart from the creedal truth that it sought to protect and Rome remains an enigma -- insisting that Scripture is not at all unique or the only source and norm of Christian truth. It is not a good thing for any Christian body that claims to be faithful to the Lord and His revelation.